Excellence as a Student and Coach

December 21, 2018 - 1 minute read


Amanda Ozaki-Laughon

Amanda Ozaki-Laughon — originally a high school debate champ from California’s Central Valley, and now Concordia Irvine’s director of debate — has been part of CUI’s forensics program for seven years as the squad has risen from obscurity to become a national powerhouse.

This year, Amanda was named Assistant Coach of the Year by the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence, a prestigious award given at the last national tournament of the year.

There are not many women who are directors of debate in our activity, so being recognized for the work we put in at Concordia was really awesome.

“It was really surprising, and also really satisfying,” says Amanda. “There are not many women who are directors of debate in our activity, so being recognized for the work we put in at Concordia was really awesome.”

Amanda graduated magna cum laude from CUI with a B.A. in history and political thought in 2015, and, as a student, helped the debate team win the 2013 and 2015 National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA) Sweepstakes National Championship awards. She and debate partner Richard Ewell went 8-0 at the NPDA national tournament, and Amanda received the All-American Award for debate and scholastic achievement.

But transitioning from teammate to coach proved challenging at first.

“When I first started, I was nervous coaching people I’d been teammates with,” she says.

Then, in 2017, she won the Coach of the Year award given out by the Washburn Debating Union at Washburn University

It felt like confirmation from God that this is something I'm meant to do.

“It felt like confirmation from God that this is something I’m meant to do,” Amanda says.

This year, Amanda’s former teammate, Judith Teruya ’18, won the top speaker award at the national round robin tournament at Rice University, the first time a CUI debater has won the top speaker title.

“That was a really proud moment for me because I’d been with her since her freshman year, first as a fellow debater, then as her coach,” says Amanda. “It was an honor to be a part of that high point in Judith's debate career.”

Amanda also works part-time for an anti-human trafficking organization, Let My People Go, and is married to fellow CUI debating alumnus, Joe Laughon.

 

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